Is there an Opentype feature that controls whether the lowercase "a" glyph is shown as "single storey" or "double storey"? An article on Fontfont.com describes this feature, but doesn't specify which "code" controls is.

My guess is that, if it's available in a given font, it will be a "stylistic variant", but that hasn't helped me in my specific case.

The "specific case" is persuading Candara to give me a double-storey "a" in italics, where the single-storey is the default.

Help with either the generic question or the specific case would be appreciated.

  • 1
    Its probably just in stylistic sets so it does not have a specific code just number However my Canandara has no italic double story glyph. So even if there were this setting its not been implemented in thiis font
    – joojaa
    Jan 16, 2018 at 12:20
  • Are you sure Candara has a double storey "a" in italics?
    – Cai
    Jan 16, 2018 at 12:41
  • Calibri Regular has one, as a stylistic option. Very nicely done I must add.
    – Jongware
    Jan 16, 2018 at 19:31
  • @Cai No, I'm not sure, although I've got some print copy that looks (to my amateur eye) precisely like Candara italics, except the "a" is double-storey. Odd -- maybe a designer "faked" it, but that would also be odd (given the source for this).
    – Dɑvïd
    Jan 16, 2018 at 21:15

2 Answers 2


Form the list of Registered Features, you could choose:

  • Stylistic Alternates (salt): "[...] alternate glyph designs for a purely aesthetic effect.", or
  • Stylistic Sets (ssxx): "In addition to [...] stylistic alternatives of individual glyphs (salt), some fonts may contain sets of stylistic variant glyphs corresponding to portions of the character set, e.g. multiple variants for lowercase letters in a Latin font. Glyphs in stylistic sets may be designed to harmonise [sic] visually, interract [sic] in particular ways, or otherwise work together."

So, if the 'a' is the only variant, I'd go with 'salt'.

As for the other, specific question, Candara has double-storey for roman, and single for italics. This is a common choice since the italics is suppose to be based on a "stylized form of calligraphic handwriting".

APPENDED: Candara has also an Oblique version, as the OP remarks. I understand the original quest is trying to get a double-storey 'a' in the italics, and the OP also suggested substituting the oblique 'a' in the italic text. Unfortunately, italics and obliques (at least in this font family) don't have the same slanting angle, and the substitution may look weird. Unless the italic face of the Font Family has a specific double-storey stylistic alternate, I guess there is no way to add a double-storey italic in this typeface ( without much trickery :P ).

EDIT: related to the article you mention from FontFont -- for example, FF Unit lists in this page that the 'a' stylistic conversion is in the salt and ss01 features. Other FF fonts also handle it similarly.

  • 1
    It turns out there is a Candara Oblique which matches the "double-storey" a character that my source has. Either that, or the regular a was manually skewed to match the italic context. Not a stylistic variant, then, but this answer is a helpful response to my question all the same. (In fact, if you want to include this info about "Candara Oblique" in your answer, I'll simply delete this comment.) Thanks!
    – Dɑvïd
    Jan 17, 2018 at 9:48
  • @Dɑvïd Ah! Now I know that there is also an oblique version of Candara. As I mentioned (and depending, of course, on the design of the font), usually the roman has a double-storey. Oblique is the same design, just slanted and corrected. Italics is generally a different, more calligraphic design of the same typeface. And the Stylistic variants are (as the name implies) just variations in the design of the glyphs. Now, trying to replace the italic 'a' with the oblique may give you a weird result, since the slant angle is different for the italic and oblique designs.
    – Pepe Ochoa
    Jan 17, 2018 at 17:28

Stylistic Sets would be the feature that would make more sense in a case like this, where you want to change the style of one or several characters. However, this feature needs to be coded when making the font. If the creator has not included both the glyph (the lowercase italic two-story a) and the functionality you will not be able to create it in a word processor /graphics editing app just by turning on the OpenType feature. If the creator has included the glyph but not the opentype feature, you can manually replace the glyphs you need.

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